Tschuess Deutschland

13 05 2011

For the past 3 days, I was in Germany…near Duesseldorf…no…not for the Eurovision, but for the second meeting for the PhD programme I am on: ATWARM. The first meeting was in November in Belfast, and this time it was the time for the University of Duisburg Essen. The DCU and QUB contingent met at Dublin airport and made our way to Duesseldorf. The weather was beautiful (I have been told I have gotten a bit of a tan YEAH) with maximum temperatures of around 27-28 degrees. There is more about the academic aspect of the trip in my research blog.

A bus picked us up from the airport and took us to our hotels. It was by now around 9:30pm and we were all hungry so we made our way to the nearest restaurant, which was a pizzeria. They were closing within ’10-15 minutes’, but I guess seeing 15 or so hungry people waiting to eat meant they served us. All us Irish were impressed with the prices. €2:50 for a small pizza margherita. €6 for the most expensive large pizza. In Dublin you will not get a slice of pizza for €2:50. And the pizzas were delicious. After that it was to the hotel bar for some drinks and off to sleep.

After a restless night of heat we woke up to start the meeting. After a day of presentations and a site visit we had dinner at the Museum der Deustchen Binnenschiffahrt. The food was absolutely delicious. And the company was great. I always enjoy spending time with the ATWARM participants at these meetings. We are really I good group if I must say so myself. We are always laughing, commenting and having a good time.

The next morning, we only had meetings in the morning, so in the afternoon, a group of us went to Duesseldorf for some sight seeing (and the most delicious ice cream), to Oberhausen for some shopping and had a great dinner at a restaurant in Duisburg MMMMMMM.

The last day was ATWARM day, where we had a full day of meetings and presentations. I always find this the most interesting yet intensive day. I also got elected student council president for the next 6 months (OK not really elected, someone from my University had to volunteer…no one did, but Zahra said I suggest Cecilia…other students said OK I agree…so Cecilia it was). It does not bother me that much. Out of 16 students, at least 12 have to act as president or secretary over the course of the ATWARM programme, so today or tomorrow it would have been my turn.

The last meeting ended at around 4pm, but the flights for all of us leaving Germany left at around 9pm (two flights: one to Dublin for the Dublin and Belfast people and the other to London for the Cranfield people). Therefore we went to the train station for some drinks and food and then left to the airport together, to get the flight back home to rainy cold Dublin.

Overall it was a great 3 days in Germany. All the people there, from the academics to the industrial members and especially the researchers are great and we always enjoy each other’s company (at least I do…don’t know about the others). Even though we have only met once before for around 2 days, it seems like we have known each other for ages. I feel honoured to be part of ATWARM and QUESTOR and look forward to the next ATWARM activity this July for the ATWARM summer school which will also be held in Germany 🙂

Danke schoen Deutschland! Danke schoen ATWARM 🙂

New Girl

12 11 2010

WEEEE…I am no longer the new girl in the lab. Yesterday, another PhD student who will be working in the same research group started her PhD life. She is also on the ATWARM project, and should have started on the same day I did. However, since she is not from the EU she had to contend with all the Visa issues, and it was finally issued last week. She quickly made arrangements and arrived in Ireland Wednesday night.

I met her for the first time yesterday, when she came to the lab. Her husband moved to Ireland with her, and I also got to meet him. They had some time before they needed to meet the supervisor, so I took them around a bit the Uni to try to get some things sorted, and had some lunch. This girl is really gorgeous and really nice. She thinks her English is not so good, but I think it is great, even more so when I got to know that she has not had an English lesson in her life and learnt the language on her own…u go girl 🙂

It is good to have another girl in the lab as well, since the only other girl is leaving soon (she should be giving in her thesis soon…so good to have another girl…especially being someone who will be here for the full 3 years. But she seems to be really advanced having done her MSc on a similar subject to her PhD. But she is nice…her husband too 🙂

Visit to Belfast!

21 10 2010

Yesterday I made the long-awaited trip to Belfast. The main reason for the trip was to visit my supervisor who is located there (read more about it in my research blog). I have been looking forward to visiting this city, moreover since I will be spending at least 3 months there as part of my PhD studies. I had two options to get there…by bus or by train. Most people told me to get the train, but I decided I wanted to get the bus…why might you ask?…well the bus leaves from a place closer to where I am staying, and it only takes 2.5hours as compared to 2.10hours by train. So it was not worth the hassle.

Early morning (OK 8:30am) saw me getting the bus to the airport, and at 9:20am the bus left Dublin airport to Belfast. I had my trusty Lonely Planet: Ireland book, which my sister had sent me as part of my belated birthday present :). I started reading it, but did not feel all that well. So I had a short nap, then woke up to find myself in the UK weeeee. We went round some picturesque villages/town, and finally we reached BELFAST!

I was feeling quite dizzy at this point, so I made my way to the University campus (a 15minute walk away from the bus station) and stopped at a Starbucks shop for a hot chocolate. It was my fist Starbucks hot chocolate, and I must say I was NOT impressed. But I felt quite better then so no complaints.

I still had some time for the meeting to start. Therefore I went around the University a bit. It is quite an old University and very nice and picturesque. I even got to enter the Great Hall at QUB, since they were preparing for a function later on in the evening and I snuck in to see. It is quite an impressive room, and I would love to have a function there some time (they also do weddings there they informed me…so who knows :P).

The Great Hall, QUB

The Great Hall, QUB

I also so that a Careers fair for Science, Engineering and IT students was happening. So I went in and checked out the companies represented. I got some good information, and more importantly I got Freebies. I am really enjoying such freebie opprotunities…I cannot wait to get more. Some of the stuff is quite useful. I have gotten mugs, key chains, a rule, highlighters, a bookmark and of course loads of pens :). What I need now are some more USB sticks (haven’t gotten any of those free) and a mouse pad (or two…one for Uni and one for home).

Time had come for me to meet my supervisor. So off I went to find his building and office and knocked on his door. You can read more about that in the research blog however. After the meeting I walked through the botanic gardens and back to the bus station to get the bus back home.

I will be back in around 1 month for the first ATWARM meeting. And I should spend around 3 months of my PhD studies there. So I have certainly not seen the end of Belfast. Cannot wait to explore more!